Sunday, October 29, 2017

Best of Boomers Halloween Edition

A New England fall offers a feast for the eyes, assuming one is lucky enough to catch the crimsons and golds at the right time. Hub and I ventured north to grandsit, the brilliance of the land a bonus. Once past the creeping traffic and grays around New York City, colors stunned as the terrain morphed from suburban flatlands to a countryside of rolling hills and mountains. We enjoyed the opportunity to get in the spirit of the season, buying pumpkins, wandering a corn maze, and visiting Spookeyville. 
One of many
Spookeyville characters. 
This week we welcome a new member to our group, Jennifer Koshak. I have not met her, but already feel a kinship. She likes chocolate, practices yoga, enjoys trying new things and likes to travel. Me too on all these things!

If you've ever wanted to travel internationally but live like the locals then join Jennifer of Unfold And Begin as she interviews Suzanne Vickery of Global Housesitters.  Suzanne shares how she and her husband are spending their retirement housesitting around the world.

Tom Sightings invites anyone who needs a dose of Halloween to hop on a magic carpet, rev up the broomstick, or in any other way beam over to Summer Leaves, Fall Nights . . . to see some ghosts and goblins and skeletons come out to play on Sightings Over Sixty.

This week Laura Lee Carter, Adventures of the NEW Old Farts, saw the most interesting show on the National Geographic Wild channel. All sorts of animals indulge in psychoactive drugs in their environment for all sorts of amazing reasons. Where do you stand on this topic? Indulge or not?

At Heart-Mind-Soul this week, Carol Cassara gave blog space to a law enforcement officer who pitched in to help with the fires in Sonoma County, California. His report from the fire and his vivid photos tell the story from an angle you won't find anywhere else.

Two of our boomers discuss medical topics this week.

Sunday, October 29, is World Stroke Day, and Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski of Baby Boomster helps spread awareness on the importance of blood pressure monitoring for Baby Boomers. She includes tips on how to keep blood pressure regulated by making four lifestyle changes. 

Saturday was National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, but many communities have drop off locations where you can take unused or expired drugs throughout the year. Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, recommends going through your medicine cabinet and disposing of drugs regularly. About 6.4 million Americans abuse controlled prescription drugs, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Four out of five people who start using heroin start with inappropriate use of prescriptions.

Have a good week and please take a few minutes to stop by the Boomers and leave a comment. We love to hear from our readers. 
Corn maize cornfusion

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lottery winner?

The following email arrived in my inbox. I read it and should have been excited, dreaming
about wonderful things to do with my new fortune.

Unfortunately I am not so gullible to believe everything on the Internet and in my inbox is truthful. On the contrary, fake news proliferates. I read the email and hit delete, but first copied and pasted it here for your edification. Should you receive this or similar correspondence, ignore and erase immediately. Here is the entire text of the email:

Dear Lucky Winner,

We happily announce to you that Your email has won you US$4.2m for 2017 Uk-Lotto Sweepstakes Lottery International programs, reply for more information.

Juan Peterson
Telephone: +4470457 86726

How many other people received this communication? Knowing I was not the only one, was there 100, 1,000, tens of thousands? Maybe millions? Or am I the only one – the supposedly lucky one – to be chosen as the recipient of this magnificent gift?

It is a miracle! Or it would be if I won. I rarely win anything. And never bought a Uk-Lotto Sweepstakes Lottery International lottery ticket.

I googled the Uk-Lotto Sweepstakes Lottery International and this is what came up #1:

No one won any money.

I occasionally buy a lottery ticket – a Powerball or Mega Millions – when potential winnings are great. Not that a million or so is mediocre, but I do not buy tickets regularly. The most ever won is $2, and immediately bought another ticket.

And of course won nothing.

Most scam emails land in my spam folder, but once in a while one announcing I am the winner or the inheritor or the recipient of a fortune drops into my inbox.

Before lamenting a fortune lost, I received another email, this one much longer.

A humble Sergeant in the U.S. Army not well schooled in the English language sent a letter chock-full of grammatical errors. The Sergeant must get $1 million worth of gold out of the Benin Republic, where his package resided over the past few years. He received the money as a result of a peacekeeping mission in Libya in 2011.

Anyone interested? Anyone believe this fairy tale?

Benin is a small French-speaking republic in West Africa. Its biggest claim to fame is that it is the origin of the voodoo religion.

Voodoo…bogus claims…a 21st century phony tale…Excerpts from the letter exactly as received:

Dear (nothing personal – but the writer did NOT know my name. Maybe the letter is from Trump?)

This message may come to you as a surprise but i want you to patiently read my proposal and respond back to me for more details if interested. My name is Sergeant John whyte, I am a Sergeant in United States Army but currently in Afghanistan for a peace keeping .  I humbly need your assistance in a transaction which i will need a trusted person that will handle with me, I  got an urgent information from a security company in Benin Republic were i deposited my package few years ago and according to the information i got from the company , they notified me that the government of Benin has issued urgent approval to all security companies in Benin to release and deliver every financial packages that has been deposited in their company for a period of 6 years…

The letter continues for a couple more lengthy paragraphs, and then requests the reader to contact the writer, at which time a request for funds to transfer the money (or the gold) will be made. The author of the correspondence receives the money from the gullible email recipient who never hears from the person again. No cash or gold or any follow-up.

Does anyone believe these fabrications? How many people answer the scams? Do receivers of these unsolicited messages send money when requested? The sender(s) must make money or would not waste time.

Remember the TV show The Millionaire? The series ran from 1955 to 1960. A rich guy gave away a million dollars each week to an individual who may or may not have deserved it.

Should a real modern-day benefactor appear looking for worthy recipients, I will humbly accept the gift.

Regrettably it is not likely to happen.

But I can dream. We all can dream. And disregard scam emails. Fake news too.

An interesting study would be to discover whether or not a correlation exists between responders of scam emails and fake news fans. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bad Karma?

Do I possess bad karma?

I am not sure exactly what that means, but the thought occurred to me recently.

Three girlfriends and I rendezvous once a year in Manhattan – the Big Apple. We spend the day pigging out savoring a leisurely, wine-stimulated lunch, and then catch a Broadway show.

I buy the theater tickets because I am the most computer-literate of the group, a sad state of affairs. Definitely nothing to brag about!

We agreed on Curvy Widow, a musical comedy; the true story of the dating adventures of a 60-something.

Already laughing? We could not wait to witness the hilarity.

I purchased the tickets, emailed success to my three friends, and circled the date on my calendar. Not literally – I don’t think dates can be circled on an online calendar. If it can be done, I don’t know how to do it.

Moving on…a couple of weeks later I received an email from Ticketmaster.

Curvy Widow was closing before our scheduled November show date. Our money would be refunded in full, so cash was available for more tickets.

Second show choice: War Paint, a musical based on the rivalry between cosmetic queens Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein. Interesting, light, fun. Our kind of show! Bought tickets, once again emailed success to friends, and looked forward to a great day in the city.

A couple of days later another email from Ticketmaster found its way into my inbox.

War Paint was closing early because one of its stars, Patti LuPone, required hip replacement surgery.

Two shows down.

Once again I needed to buy tickets. Our Big Apple day drawing near, new tickets for another show became an urgent to-do. The closer to our get-together date, the fewer choices would be available.

Third choice: Waitress, another musical, about a waitress, her ne’er-do-well husband, an unexpected pregnancy, an affair…should be fun!

I got the tickets, emailed the other three of my success, and for a third time await the big day. I told my friends if for any reason Waitress closes – even for the one day we are supposed to see the show – my job as ticket-purchaser is over. I will officially retire as procurer.

So do I boast bad karma?

Will my bad karma rub off on others? If I have bad karma now, is it temporary? Can – or will – my bad karma turn into good karma sometime in the future?

Is it me? Do I possess unseen, unknown, unbounded powers that signal across the Internet something problematic should happen? Is the fact that TWO shows I wanted to see and bought tickets for closed? Is it MY fault the shows are closing?

Will I be blacklisted? I may not be allowed to buy theater tickets ever again!

Is it coincidence – I buy tickets, the show closes unexpectedly?

Once? Possibly.

But twice? 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stopover at the Old Hometown

I visited my old hometown. My grown-up old hometown. Hub and I lived in Lancaster County PA over 30 years, working, raising kids, making great friends, and then…

We moved.

The Jersey shore is now our home. Happily, I might add.

We had no idea we moved from what U.S. News and World Report proclaimed the #2 Best Place to Retire in 2018, based on a survey of locations in the U.S. offering a great quality of life at an affordable price.

Who knew? Not us.

There are no signs upon entering the county touting the place as a retirement mecca. No billboards broadcast the virtues of an ideal combination of city, suburbs, and pungent farmlands. Pungent meaning foul smelling, but you get used to it.

There are senior citizens all over Lancaster County, but nowadays seniors can be found everywhere. Boomers swagger into senior citizenhood every day. Seniors live longer and are healthier and more active than previous generations. We hike, bike, travel and eat out. A lot.

There are lots of reasonably priced restaurants in Lancaster.

On the other hand Lancaster’s senior population is not as ubiquitous as places in other parts of the country, for instance Florida.

Like Sarasota, which happened to be named the #1 Best Place to Retire 2018.

There is not a lot different about Lancaster from thousands of other mid-sized cities with surrounding suburbs and farmlands. Except the Plain sects – the Amish among them. Experiencing continual growth, the county boasts clogged roads and shopping centers under construction, but also a revived and flourishing downtown.

We returned to old haunts for a short stay. We met friends for dinner and drove downtown, noting art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and a variety of small businesses, few of which existed when we lived in the area. And we observed people. Lots of people walking around, quite different from years ago when rundown stores dotted the city landscape and few people strolled the streets.

We spent a couple of hours in another Lancaster County town, Lititz, voted in 2013 America’s coolest small town by Budget Travel.

The recognition was not referring to the weather.

Eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings accommodating stores and restaurants – no chains – line the main streets. We wandered from store to store, strolling aisles of clothes and local crafts, souvenirs and tchotchkes.

Hub and I have a talent for missing ‘in’ places. We moved to western Pennsylvania immediately after steel plants closed. Thousands of workers lost jobs permanently, disrupting a thriving economy and pushing the area into depressed status. We moved a couple of years later, and since leaving, the area has undergone a renaissance led by technology companies. Pittsburgh, the Western PA city closest to our home at the time, is rated in the 2018 U.S. News and World Report survey #8 Best Place to Retire.

Go figure.

New Jersey’s high property and estate taxes are two major reasons the state is NEVER on ANY retirement places to live.

But we love it. Will we stay? We don’t know…

If we relocate the state will probably figure out a way to lower property and income taxes and create incentives attracting businesses. The benefits of living on our island will outweigh the negatives and our current home will suddenly appear on lists of appealing places to retire.

But first we must move. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Exploring Wild and Wonderful

West Virginia. ‘Wild and wonderful’ – not the state motto (which is: Mountaineers are always free) - but a tourism slogan.

Hub and I ventured west with friends, one of whom lived for years in West Virginia. The trip was a reunion with Sharon’s state of youth.

It is a challenge timing a trip to witness the glory of fall foliage. Our son lives in Vermont, and an autumn trip is usually on the agenda. Too often however we arrive too late or too early, or weather conditions preclude vibrant colors in favor of pales and browns.

 Our weekend in the mountains of West Virginia offered a feast for the eyes. Mountains of trees boasted vibrant bands of color. Reds, yellows, golds and oranges along with greens dotted the landscape as we drove narrow two-lane roads up and down mountains, switchbacks causing slight queasiness. We observed run-down cabins and well-kept farmhouses, small thriving towns and others struggling to survive.

Rolling mountains stretched to the horizon. The state’s modern history dates to 1609 when it became part of Virginia. Hunters, trappers, explorers and adventurous settlers crossed the territory, a few lingering. Today much of the state remains rural thanks to the rugged terrain.

Following a long morning ride we eagerly piled out of the car at Coopers Rock State Forest. Sharon and I

ventured down a marked path, at some point losing trail markers posted for hikers. We realized we were off course when the narrow path disintegrated to rocky, untrod ground. But the downward trek and upward climb made us ravenous. After numerous pictures on to our next stop – lunch!

Lunch transformed into dinner. Muriale’s Italian Kitchen in Fairmount opened in 1968, expanded and redecorated several times over the years. I know because Sharon told me. She remembers the place from the restaurant’s opening, a major town event. Apparently there were not many restaurants in the area at the time. 

The second day of our journey dawned foggy and rainy. Our first stop should have been the New River Gorge Bridge. Driving into the Visitor’s Center, we did not park or get out of the car. We did drive across the bridge, the longest steel arch bridge and the third highest in the country. Unfortunately we could not see the river below because of fog.

Finally mealtime again - lunch! The place, chosen by hub, proved underwhelming. We journeyed on to Blackwater Falls State Park. A wide, level path and boardwalk leads to viewing platforms overlooking the falls. No rain, but we were not taking chances. No longer young and adventurous, a long hike in the forest with the possibility of being stranded in a downpour was not on our itinerary. More pictures, then on the road again.
On the path to the water falls. 

Due to too much coffee and advanced age we visited Sheetz – a regional convenience store chain - more than once. Or twice. We kept moving, but the considerable number of trucks along with constant car traffic made the final portion of the drive a bit tense, although I admit the three passengers dozed off. Luckily our driver stayed awake.

Reunion weekend over, four travelers slowly exited the car and stretched bodies bent over from the lengthy ride, tired but happy following a foray into wild and wonderful. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Nothing Funny to Write About Today

I wanted to write a light piece today, but the words did not come. I could not think of anything funny. Nothing funny happened to me. I did not witness anything funny.

Nothing seemed funny. Or slightly amusing.

All I could think about was the horrific Vegas massacre. There is nothing funny about being killed. About people injured. About people scared. About people forever losing a sense of security and safety. Safety and Happiness – what our leaders are supposed to provide citizens. Says so in the Declaration of Independence.

Our leaders are failing us.

I could enumerate an alphabetical list of mass shootings, beginning with an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County PA and a theater in Aurora Colorado, a university in Blacksburg and a church in Charleston…and on and on and on.

People born in the U.S. and immigrants and the mentally ill and teenagers and people fired from a job and the poor and the rich and the middle class…all kinds of people shoot other people for a variety of reasons.

The common denominator?


I think about the politicians who tell us to pray for survivors and the wounded and families of victims, but who refuse to discuss the real reason these events happen.

In Vegas one man got his hands on guns. Lots of them. Semi-automatic, automatic, devices allowing guns to shoot more bullets in a shorter period of time.

Do you think the politicians refusing to discuss gun control sleep soundly at night?  Do you think they in any way connect the money they receive from the NRA with their passionate defense of guns? Do they truly believe easy access to guns has nothing to do with the epidemic of shootings in this country?

Statistics don’t mean anything to the powers that be. Ignore the number of shootings, ignore the numbers killed and injured, ignore the number of guns stockpiled in peoples' homes. I do not know anyone that owns a gun or two or three and belongs to a militia. That part of the Second Amendment  - A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State - is another detail gun advocates choose to ignore.
Millions of dollars spent on propaganda wins believers. It is OK for politicians to work hard establishing ways to prevent people from voting – a right guaranteed to all citizens in the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

But ratifying gun control to make it a wee bit harder for anyone to arbitrarily kill innocents? Well, no. Gun rights apparently trump other rights. Like the right to life. And the right to the pursuit of happiness. Dead people can’t pursue anything. How about free speech? Dead people don’t speak. Vote? Dead people don’t vote.

Why are so many powerful people shortsighted and greedy, selfish and inconsiderate of others?

Does anyone benefit from mass shootings? Gun manufacturers and gun dealers. Following a bloodbath folks dash into gun shops to purchase guns, worried their right to buy guns will be limited in the future. So manufacturers make more guns and donate more money to politicians via the NRA, ensuring gun control does not become reality.

It’s the economy, stupid.

I have spoken. Or rather, written. My next post will be upbeat (hopefully). I am sure something funny or cute or humorous and amusing will happen to me. Or I will witness a funny incident.

Life is a drama of tragedy and comedy.
You should learn to enjoy the comic episodes a little more.

- Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Boomers On Happiness, Money, Work, and Personal Care

The butterfly and birds in these pictures stopped by my house this week, welcome visitors, if only for a short time. I assume they are travelling south, the sudden cool weather a warning winter will arrive soon.

Sometimes we stop to smell the roses and today I stopped to watch these creatures. They brought a smile to my lips as I spent a few moments enjoying their presence. 

Too often we forget to pause during busy days to observe and enjoy our environment.

You'd think enjoying life would be second nature, wouldn't you? But it's good to have a reminder of things we can do to boost our happiness quotient. Carol Cassara at Heart-Mind-Soul does just that with her piece How to Enjoy Life. And her readers have added to her list in the Comments. How about you? What would you add?

Laura Lee Carter has worked as a professional writer for over ten years now, and she has a few things to say about that! She will continue her work, first of all because she's addicted, and second because of the occasional wonderful fan letters she receives!

In case you missed it earlier in the week, the Sightings Over Sixty blog is offering an important and updated look at Long-Term-Care insurance. Tom Sightings turns to expert Jeremy Kisner, a Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Life Underwriter in Phoenix, AZ, to answer all your FAQs on Long-Term Care. An important issue a majority of us will face, either dealing with an ill family member, or in need of assistance ourselves.

On the Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about a topic dear to all of us - money. First, a survey shows that more than 40 percent of U.S. adults are struggling to make ends meet and about a third are experiencing financial hardships. The survey also shows that financial well-being is higher for older adults, especially those aged 65 and older, whose average score was 61. Younger adults, those 34 and younger, tended to have the lowest financial well-being score with an average of 51.

How much do you spend on a ‘date night’? Although I like to cook, hub and I also enjoy eating out – our kind of date night, occasionally a movie or special event part of the evening’s entertainment. But I must admit that nowadays date night is often 'date afternoon'. Rita R. Robison reports on a survey that shows the average date night costs $101 in America compared to the average cost globally of $86. 

In Robison’s third money article, she writes again about what to do about the Equifax data breach of 143 million consumers’ information.

Thank you for stopping by and spending time with the boomers. 
As Laura Lee Carter notes, we love to hear from our readers. 
Don’t hesitate to leave comments!

Picture from Laura Lee Carter's blog Adventures of  the NEW Old Farts.